Report cards, Sisyphus, Christmas carols and Questionable Sanity

poetry-friday-logo-300x205I haven’t written in more days than I want to count, and that always makes me feel out of sorts. Schoolwork has slowly but surely taken over my life and my stress level has been skyrocketing. I’ve definitely struggled to maintain any sort of reasonable perspective–and pretty much failed. This is a long rambling purge of a poem, and I suppose it casts some shadows on my claim to sanity (and my professed love of teaching for that matter) but it felt so good to be writing again!

It’s been a crazy week and I haven’t written at all
and one day is tumbling into the next,
like cute fuzzy demented kittens,
kittens on catnip
with needle-sharp claws,
and I want to bellow,

Last night
my daughter shared a poem on Facebook,
a lovely poem,
about a woman contemplating the year past,
looking through her calendar,
gathering up the moments of joy
ceremoniously burning the rest
and I consider the past week or two
and realize that I want to
rip out those calendar days and
into microscopic shards,
smash them to smithereens
under my thick-soled boots,
take them in my hands and
twist them, twist them, twist them
wringing them tighter and tighter
until they are dead, dead, DEAD!

but I know that’s not healthy
so I turn on some Christmas carols
in an attempt to infuse some light-hearted joy,
some holiday spirit, into my morning
Mariah Carey sings “All I Want for Christmas”
and I’m trying,
truly trying,
to get into the swing of it
but all I can remember
is that last year’s teacher left the science materials
filled with last year’s experiments
brewing, simmering,
mouldering deep in the closet
and I just found them
the night before I intended to prep the materials
to teach the unit
that I’ve barely had time to consider
because report cards took over my life
like a malevolent entity,
stretching some moments to eternity
and whisking away others in a blink
as I struggled to capture just the right phrase,
jacked on coffee and too little sleep,
trying to sneak in some planning for
this eternal week
and now when e-mails ding as they arrive
I jolt and my pulse skitters and hops
and I wonder,
What now?


And last night’s late email
was from my principal
with a compliment and thanks for the comments
I’d been slaving over
and I slipped into sleep and dreamed
it was the next morning and he said,
“You got what I was really saying about those comments,
didn’t you?
They were canned!
and his voice echoed louder and louder
through  my twisty-turny horrible night’s sleep

And this morning I chide myself,
reminding myself not to wish the days away
but to revel in the glory of a sunrise
or the tracery of crystallized frost on a fallen leaf
or shared laughter with a child,
but there are still two days to go
until the weekend
and my metaphors are colliding
as I hang by a thread
and, like Sisyphus, helplessly
keep pushing the rock up the hill
though sometimes it seems
like gravity triumphs
and the damn rock is careening down the mountain
and I want to turn tail and RUN
or just step out of the way
(I mean did Sisyphus ever think of that?
Did he?!)
but I’m eternally damned (or
invested or something)
and I keep pushing that boulder
up                Up                  UP
but at least now
my hips are swaying along
to jazzy holiday tunes
as Eartha Kitt belts out
“Santa Baby”
and I head out to face the day.

Molly Hogan (c) 2016

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Check it Out. Click on the link to enjoy some poetry.

20 thoughts on “Report cards, Sisyphus, Christmas carols and Questionable Sanity

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Love the structure to this poem, great word choice. The length of the poem even fits with the mood. Only 1 more day until the weekend- you can do it! Maybe tomorrow will be the day of the calendar you want to save!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kd0602 says:

    Molly, Your poem so eloquently expresses the overwhelm of this time of year from a teaching perspective. I love the days tumbling like cute, fuzzy demented kittens with needle sharp claws–I can feel that kind of crazy! Now to catch my breath, get back to writing, and find the joy of the season…lucky for me, like you, I really do love teaching! 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alice Nine says:

    Yep, just like they say, “Anyone can teach.” Right? Sure. Great word choice. Terrific pacing. I love the crescendos you create in words and form. May your holidays overflow with joy and peace, refreshing you clear through your bones!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Alice! I could have added a stanza or two after spending an hour+ today trying to fill balloons with assorted matter for a science activity next week. But I’m home now and I appreciate your good wishes and wish you the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the honesty, emotion and immediacy of this, but I send hugs. As for those brewing science materials from last year!! Yuck!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your Purging Poem – a poem that purges the weight of the day after day. And love this line as a former teacher “report cards took over my life like a malevolent entity,” And I don’t know the half of what is expected of today’s teachers reporting how students have met the standards. After one such week (and I had many!), I knew I needed a “mental health” day. The kids will survive, your coffee awaits. I returned recharged and ready to go 1 on 20!

    Liked by 2 people

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Dan. I was close to a mental health day but the mere thought of writing sub plans amidst everything else scared me off! I’m holding out for a snow day on Monday. Keep your fingers crossed!


  6. lindabaie says:

    I suspect every teacher in the world would love reading this, Molly. I both laughed and grimaced at the pace, wishing everyone who does not teach would have a taste of this. It’s fabulous! And the laughter came from “I’m eternally damned (or/invested or something)”. Exactly!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. maryleehahn says:

    Amen, Sister. Right there with you. Right there with you. “Schoolwork has slowly but surely taken over my life and my stress level has been skyrocketing.” Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. keri lewis says:

    Just sending a hug and empathy that writing makes the world feel better. 🙂


  9. […] to the weekend with a ferocity that was slightly alarming. (You can read my purging poem, “Report Cards, Sisyphus, Christmas Carols and Questionable Sanity, if you want the full story about that.)  The kids were safely loaded onto the buses and after […]


  10. macrush53 says:

    I am there with you when I don’t write consistently. And I have felt those emotions of your poem but those last lines and Eartha Kitt to save the day. Perfecto.

    Liked by 1 person

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